SpinVox Talks Birds and Bees with Teens

Speech-to-text provider SpinVox, MTV’s Staying Alive Foundation, and Facebook today launched the "Stand by What You Say" campaign, an initiative seeking to open a dialogue among young people about sexual health and HIV. The goal is to demystify sex and alleviate the disease’s stigma. 

Under the campaign, users go to the Web site, where they can read messages sent from participants across Europe and North America. The Web site has a list of phone numbers users can call, depending on their country of origin. When users call a number, they are prompted by R&B singer and Staying Alive Foundation’s Ambassador Kelly Rowland to leave a voice message discussing certain topics, such as sex secrets, one-night stands, or condoms. SpinVox’s voice-to-text service converts each message to text that appears on the Stand By What You Say Web site.

After leaving a message, callers are asked to pledge money to the Staying Alive Foundation—MTV’s HIV and AIDS charity that provides grants to youth-led organizations seeking to raise awareness on the local level. SpinVox itself has pledged to match funds raised at $50,000.

Though this process seems like a roundabout way of opening a line of communication, a SpinVox spokesperson insists that the power of voice opens up the dialogue. 

"The idea is to have a spontaneous discussion about sex, sex education and the issues around HIV, AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases," he says. "We believe there is an innate value to speaking your mind, and in this case, standing by what you say. For example, if someone says aloud that they will no longer have unprotected sex or that they will begin a mission to raise money for children in Africa who are dying from AIDS in alarming numbers, we believe the simple act of saying it instead of typing it will actually increase their likelihood of following through. We also believe the new technology will draw more people in if nothing more than to satisfy their curiosity. The end result is more participation."

SpinVox uses its Voice Message Conversion System—the same partially automated technology that it uses for voicemail-to-text conversion. For the Stand by What You Say campaign, "The majority of conversion is carried out by automated speech technologies," says a SpinVox spokesperson. "As VMCS is continually evolving, and supported by a live-learning process, it enables the system to complete an ever-increasing proportion of automated conversion." 

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